Stories of hauntings thrill forum participants


By Melanie Brandert

10/16/07 - Argus Leader

Ever think it was possible that a 12-year-old boy would find his way back to his grandparents' room at the Bullock Hotel in Deadwood with the aid of deceased owner Seth Bullock?

That spirits of Native Americans and Alex Johnson haunt the historic Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City?

Or demons have been spotted at Devil's Gulch in Garretson where outlaw Jesse James made his famous leap?

Or that the ghosts of workers who built state parks, roads and bridges are being seen at Black Hills Playhouse in Custer, which had been a camp for unemployed men in the early 1900s?

"A lot of the activity seems to take place inside the playhouse where many people will be greeted by somebody who looks as though they're from the early 1900s," author Chad Lewis said. "At first glance, they think it's somebody on the tour guide that's dressed in period costume. They soon find out that there's nobody working in period costume."

Lewis, who has co-written books on road guides to haunted places in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, was among the speakers at a conference where tales of phantom spirits, crop circles and the afterlife were heard Friday night at Holiday Inn City Centre.

Lewis' co-author, Terry Fisk, shared ancient beliefs about the afterlife with the audience. University of Arizona professor Gary Schwartz's "The Afterlife Experiments" involving mediums found that they were up to 80 percent correct with the information they received.

Fisk noted that study participant Allison DuBois, on whom the TV show, "Medium," starring Patricia Arquette is based, is considered by Schwartz to be the Michael Jordan of mediums.

"She was one of the most accurate he had ever met," Fisk said of Schwartz.

In the hallway, Noah Voss and Kevin Nelson sold gear to track paranormal activity as part of their business, GetGhostGear.com Enterprises. Items included a remote weather probe and 35-millimeter motion field camera.

Nicole Thode of Sioux Falls took her daughter, Shai-Lyn, 8, to the event because they like ghosts, haunted houses and paranormal activity.

"I thought it would be a good experience for her to come here and get firsthand knowledge of what they've done, what they've seen, where they've been," Thode said.

Reach reporter Melanie Brandert at 977-3926.

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